When it was expected to call a child “my lord”

perhaps the boy was in pain and too proud to say. It was that fear that decided him to speak; if the measles had caught them up, there was no time to waste; he must carry the boy back to Claire at once.

“My lord?” he said softly.

The sobbing ceased abruptly. He heard the audible sound of a swallow and the rasp of cloth on skin as the lad wiped a sleeve across his face.

“Yes?” the Earl said, with a creditable attempt at coolness, marred only by the thickness in his voice.

“Are ye unwell, my lord?” He could tell already that it wasn’t that, but it would do for a pretext. “Have ye maybe taken a touch of the cramp? Sometimes dried apples take a man amiss.”

–Drums of Autumn

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